Log In

Reset Password

Economic ‘green shoots’ are emerging

Better days: A stronger US economy, together with lower fuel prices and emergence of fresh economic activity in Bermuda, brings renewed opportunities for individuals and families to rebuild their savings accounts and feel confidence in the future

A new year for investors and global capital markets. A new year for the economy of Bermuda. A new year for your personal finances. What will it bring, how will it shake out, how will it affect you personally?

America, our neighbour (and 400-year old relationship friend), saw the S&P capital market index hit new records 53 times last year (according to Bloomberg), while the Dow Jones rose to an all-time high above 18,000 during the last quarter of the year. The US dollar has risen in strength (up an estimated 12 per cent in value at December 31) against other major currencies. At year end, it remains to be seen how the new agreement between Russia and China to establish a new international reserve currency to replace the US dollar will eventually work out.

US economic confidence was contagious after the US Commerce department placed US economic growth at five per cent for the third quarter of 2014. US based stock funds attracted $36.5 billion inflows ($12 billion+ to mutual funds — $23 billion+ to ETFs) for one week ended December 24, the largest inflow investments ever, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper service.

Bermuda’s economy is starting to show “green shoots” in economic pickup. Job networking and career conferences were in evidence; announcements on “real” inception dates for construction project; the America’s Cup Bermuda (ACBDA) company open for business; and various other ambitious designs, renovations, upgrades, and business promotions are in the planning stages. More foreign dollars flowing through the Bermuda economic system means more competition for goods and services, the eventual establishment of more jobs, a rise in the inflow to government coffers, and the ability to increase our Gross Domestic Product numbers and credit ratings.

The individual Bermuda family has little control over global and government planning, but you can control your personal environment by focusing on what you can do this year to achieve greater satisfaction with the FFFH: food, fuel, finances and jobs, and home. The decrease in oil prices should reflect in lower prices at the pumps, at your wattage meter at home, and on the shelves.

Turning to the rental market, those who have been unable to rent their apartments should be able to see a benefit from the up-ramp in ACBDA activity, while many families may spruce up their homes for the duration of the ADBDA events to earn extra income. One concern is that rents may eventually escalate beyond expectations, leaving renters in a somewhat similar situation as when the Bermuda rental market overheated in the last decade. There have been recent announcements of cooperation in the rental market exchange to assure fair market rents.

However, those renters that have negotiated good prices for now, should closely monitor rental activity for pricing changes. Changes in housing costs could jeopardise personal finance budget goals.

Increased financial activity across the local economic spectrum will mean the chance for many families to rebuild their savings accounts, to feel confidence and secure in the future once again.

That is what it is all about in a personal life: confidence, security, pride in one’s career, the ability to provide for oneself and family, and hope for the future. Let us not forget the impact of caring personal relationships, personal spiritual commitments, and community support.

These are the things that make our lives worthwhile.

Happy New Year. Our hopes and prayers for a truly successful 2015.

Moneywise will be featuring more interactive feedback from readers this year on how they handle their investments, a look at do-it-yourself investing, finding low-cost index funds, household savings tips, a question and answer section on personal finance and retirement problems and concerns directed from readers, along with the publication of personal finance e-books focused on the Bermuda finance environment.

Please stay tuned. Thank you all.

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM Masters of Law: International Tax and Financial Services,

Appointed to the Professional Tax Advisory Council, American Citizens Abroad, Geneva, Switzerland

President: The Pondstraddler Life Consultancy: international financial planning, publications, presentations for the challenging lifestyles of multinational individuals and their families residing, working, crossing borders, and straddling ponds in the North Atlantic Quadrangle. Specific focus for residents of Bermuda, the premier international finance centre. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com